Investigating learning assistants' use of questioning in online courses about introductory physics


Learning assistants (LAs) play an important role in inquiry-oriented physics instruction in large classrooms. LAs increase the teacher-student ratio and provide timely support to student exploration. Questioning is believed to be an advantageous strategy for LAs to scaffold student learning and maintain students as the agent of knowledge construction. Unfortunately, there are few instruments for the measurement and preparation of LAs' competency of questioning. It remains obscure how LAs use questioning in their interaction with students and how their questioning contributes to students' conceptual understanding. In this study, we developed two instruments that included a coding scheme to assess LAs' practice of questioning from class videos and written questions to assess LAs' knowledge of analyzing various situations that they may encounter while teaching introductory physics. We used the two instruments to measure performed and narrated pedagogical content knowledge of questioning (PCK-Q) of four LAs in two inquiry-based physics courses taught online. We examined the validity and reliability of both instruments, gauged LA-student interaction in online settings, delineated the LAs' PCK-Q, and suggested how the LAs' questioning contributed to students' physics learning. We also discussed the use of the two instruments for the purposes of both LA assessment and preparation.


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Wang, J., Wang, Y., Wipfli, K., Thacker, B., & Hart, S.. 2023. Investigating learning assistants' use of questioning in online courses about introductory physics. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 19(1).